Giant Pandas

With the dark circles around his eyes, a light-colored short face and small puffy tail, and dark, furry body and black ears, Pancham is based off of a giant panda cub. Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are found in mountain ranges in central Chinese provinces: Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu, restricted to these locations from lower areas due to forest clearing and other developments. They typically live in broadleaf and coniferous forests with a thick understory of bamboo.

Giant pandas are typically associated with calmness and peacefulness probably because they seem to mostly eat and sleep all day. However, the animals can be unpredictable and have exhibited some violent behavior such as attacking humans. They are bears so they have incredible strength and should be treated with the caution that other bear species are given. Pandas are mostly territorial and live solitarily, but they have been found living in small groups. They are considered a symbol of peace, strength, and courage.

There are only around 1,600 known giant pandas left in the wild, and these beautiful animals are considered endangered on the Internatonal Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List of Threatened Species. If you would like to read more about what this scaling means, please check out this external resource.

Qinling Panda

I'd like to also mention another panda: the Qinling panda. First discovered in the 1960s, the Qinling panda is the first variation of the giant panda to be recognized as its own species officially in 2005. The major differences between these and the giant panda is that they are noticeably smaller in size and also have dark and light brown fur, instead of the iconic black and white. There are an estimated 200-300 living in the wild, and they are restricted to reside in the Qinling Mountains.

Every Pokemon has a shiny variation which is a rare coloring with a low encounter and hatching rate which makes them special to find. Pictured right is Pancham's shiny appearance and a photograph of a Qinling panda. Pancham's shiny color scheme is brown which is a reference to the beautiful subspecies, Qinling panda.

Other Bear Pokemon

Looking at the other two bear Pokemon, their evolutionary chains are incredibly similar, physically. The three bear cubs are bipedal, small, and not very powerful (also, adorable). However, their second and final evolutions all turn into a large and intimidating bear with significantly greater strength. Teddiursa, little Normal-type cub, evolves into large grizzly Ursaring, and Cubchoo becomes the powerful polar bear, Beartic. Pancham evolves into another angry brute of a bear, Pangoro. Visually, these Pokemon are not all that interesting. Bear cubs evolving into larger, more powerful bears is not anything terribly unique. Even though pandas are typically portrayed as calm and adorable animals, Pangoro's design is similar to these other intimidating bears. At this point, it would make little sense why adorable Pancham would evolve into this angry bear even by looking at these other two final evolutions. Pandas are vastly different from grizzly and polar bears, but yet, Pangoro's design is similar to these other bears. There's most likely a reason for Pangoro's aggressive exterior which will be explored further in this section.


The first important thing to note is how Pancham is pronounced. To be honest, I pronounced it by separating the syllables in what I found to be the most logical way to pronounce the name: Pan-CHAM which is actually incorrect. I did have a logical reason for this though! Looking at the name, it is most likely a combination of at least two words.

(01) The prefix, Pan-, is derived straight from panda, the animal that Pancham is based off of.

(02) The suffix, -cham, seems to be a reference to the word champion which is a term that is typically associated with fighting Pokemon (see: Machamp) or martial arts, in general. The name probably does not end in a "p" since his name actually starts with "P," and the name would be too similar to "Machamp."

Even though the above pronunciation is incorrect, I think that the origin of the words makes sense and probably influenced the final name choice for Pancham. The correct way to emphasize the syllables is:

After watching the anime adaptation where Serena actually has a Pancham, I learned that the name is actually prounced as: PANCH-am, pronounced similarly to "Punch 'em." This is similar to how you'd pronounce "Smoochum" as "Smooch 'em."

Panch- is a play on the word punch which is great way to describe a little Pokemon that primarily fights with his fists. Through leveling, Pancham can learn moves such as Comet Punch and Dragon Punch, and one of his abilities increases the strength of punch-type attacks. While I was originally pronouncing his name incorrectly, I do think that the name is a combination of my two analyses. Panda and Punch combine to make PANCH-. While -cham may sound like "'em," its roots were still most likely pulled from the word champion.